Legend (Page 23)

You’re staring at his crotch, Reese!

“F**k,” I say.

“What?” he asks.

I jerk my face up to his, burning in embarrassment, to find him wearing this really male smile, and I turn around and start heading to the treadmills.

“Hey,” he says, taking my wrist.

I slip my hand into the front pocket of his hoodie to fetch his iPod shuffle and earbuds. “I really need these more than you right now,” I say apologetically, and then I stick the earbuds into my burning ears and hop onto a treadmill.

My treadmill faces him.

He’s standing there, looking at me in amusement.

I don’t know what kind of pull he has, or what kind of power over me. I want him for my birthday and Christmas and it’s always the best things at Christmas and oh my god, what’s going on with me?

He’s like the world’s most perfect sight and feel and smell and I can almost taste him in the air.

I don’t want to like you, Maverick.

I don’t want you to turn around, Maverick.

He turns around, and I do like him, and I don’t know what to do to get him to like me. He’s all hard to my softness. I feel extra voluptuous ’cause he’s so hard.

As he moves around the training area, he jerks off his hoodie and the T-shirt beneath rides up a bit as he does, revealing every concretelike square of his abs. And yeah, I feel so voluptuous right now—I just don’t know why I can’t look more like Brooke. I stopped eating a little bit when Miles pulled a Mr. Darcy on me. Reese is nice, but I like them on the slimmer side, though she’s totally fuckable.

Nice.

Sigh.

Though I’ve lost a few pounds since the day in his hotel room, I’m just not hungry. I’ve lost my appetite. I’ve grown a new addiction and obsession, and it’s more dangerous than food could ever be to me. More dangerous than any addiction I’ve ever had.

And I stare at this addiction of mine, feeling things that are definitely very un-nice, and I notice he sips his drink and watches the other fighters beat up the heavy bag as he waits for his turn. He’s absently stroking his thumb across the cut I stitched up.

He sets his drink aside and then grabs his hoodie again, as if he’s just made some decision. He comes over.

“Let’s get out of here,” he says. “There’s a walking trail nearby.”

“But . . .” I’m shocked. “Your punching bags?”

“I fight tomorrow. Today’s my recovery day.”

I power down the treadmill and hop off. “In that case, how are your legs? You’re going to need to catch up.”

We head outside and I watch him from the corner of my eye as we take the trail, the noon sun blazing high above us for the minutes it takes us to wander into the shelter of the trees.

“I like spending time with you,” I mumble.

“Me too.” He smiles at me sideways, and I feel that smile in every sexual place of my body.

“Wow, look at this view.” I stop and take in all the green slopes on the horizon. We’ve been hiking up the trail for twenty minutes, and it’ll take most of that time to hike our way down. “I only have twenty more minutes or Racer will get restless.”

“How’s he liking Denver?”

“Good. He’s obsessed with the mountains. So do you hike when you’re not punching?”

“Not really. . . .” He mysteriously trails off, then shoots me a studious look before he adds, his voice soft as the breeze, “I wanted you all to myself.”

I stop. “What? Why? ” I choke on a laugh.

He’s not smiling, just looking amused and honest and so much like a guy, his eyes a little dark. “You know why.”

“Do I?” I shake my head in consternation. “Maybe I just want to hear you say it.”

“Why?” His lips twitch a fraction.

“Because . . .” I search for a reason, trying to regain my breath. “Maybe I like your voice?”

Suddenly he’s in my space, backing me up, his gaze intent. My Himalayan butt hits a tree and I gasp when he props his arm against it. He pins my body between him and the bark. All my breath goes when the front of his body makes contact with the front of mine. My nipples react so strongly they hurt.

I’m suddenly smelling forest and earth and Maverick Cage.

Maverick looks at me for a moment, his face harsh in concentration, the leaves of the lush surroundings rustling with a breeze, thankfully hiding my rapidly quickening breath. Maverick lowers his eyes so they are level with mine, not touching me with his hands, only his body keeping mine in place. “I want to spend the twenty minutes you have left kissing you, Reese,” he says, his voice—so deep, so textured, and so irresistible—running thick and heady through my veins.

But it’s the look in his eyes, asking for permission, that slays me.

“You’re attracted to me?” I ask disbelievingly.

He says, as if it’s obvious and not easy for him to stand, “Very much attracted to you, Reese.”

“I . . .” I look away, acutely aware of how hard every inch of his body is, contacting mine.

I did not see this coming.

I’m blown away.

In cinders, right here, on this trail, I’m leaving a part of me right here.

He leans his head forward slowly, and I turn my head instinctively away, just an inch, scared to feel his lips on mine. Scared of what it’ll do to me.

He brushes his lips across my jawline instead. I hear a moan rip out of my throat. He exhales and eases back, looks at me for a moment.